She Done Him Wrong

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She Done Him Wrong
She-done-him-wrong.jpg
Directed by Lowell Sherman
Produced by William LeBaron
Written by
  • Harvey F. Thew
  • John Bright
  • Mae West (play)
Starring
Music by John Leipold (uncredited)
Cinematography Charles Lang
Editing by Alexander Hall
Studio Paramount Pictures
Distributed by Paramount Pictures
Release dates
  • January 27, 1933 (1933-01-27)
Running time 66 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $200,000[1]
Box office $2.2 million[2]

She Done Him Wrong is a Pre-Code 1933 Paramount Pictures comedy romance starring Mae West and Cary Grant. Its plot includes melodramatic and musical elements. The supporting cast features Owen Moore, Gilbert Roland, Noah Beery, Sr., Rochelle Hudson and Louise Beavers.

The film was directed by Lowell Sherman and produced by William LeBaron. The script was adapted by Harvey F. Thew and John Bright from the successful Broadway play Diamond Lil by Mae West. Original music was composed by Ralph Rainger, John Leipold and Stephan Pasternacki. Charles Lang was responsible for the cinematography, while the costumes were designed by Edith Head.

The movie is famous for West's many double entendres and quips, including her seductive, "I always did like a man in a uniform. That one fits you grand. Why don't you come up sometime and see me? I'm home every evening."

Blonde Venus, starring Marlene Dietrich and Cary Grant, predates She Done Him Wrong by a year even though Mae West always claimed to have discovered Cary Grant for her film, elaborating that up until then Grant had only made "some tests with starlets."

Plot[edit]

The story is set in New York in the 1890s. A bawdy singer, Lady Lou (Mae West), works in the Bowery barroom saloon of her boss and benefactor, Gus Jordan (Noah Beery), who has given her many diamonds. But Lou is a lady with more men friends than anyone might imagine.

What she does not know is that Gus trafficks in prostitution and runs a counterfeiting ring to help finance her expensive diamonds. He also sends young women to San Francisco to be pickpockets. Gus works with two other crooked entertainer-assistants, Russian Rita (Rafaela Ottiano) and Rita's lover, the suave Sergei Stanieff (Gilbert Roland). One of Gus's rivals and former "friend" of Lou's, named Dan Flynn (David Landau), spends most of the movie dropping hints to Lou that Gus is up to no good, promising to look after her once Gus is in jail. Lou leads him on, hinting at times that she will return to him, but eventually he loses patience and implies he'll see her jailed if she doesn't submit to him.

A city mission (a thinly disguised Salvation Army) is located next door to the bar. Its young director, Captain Cummings (Cary Grant), is in reality an undercover Federal agent working to infiltrate and expose the illegal activities in the bar. Gus suspects nothing; he worries only that Cummings will reform his bar and scare away his customers.

Lou's former boyfriend, Chick Clark (Owen Moore), is a vicious criminal who was convicted of robbery and sent to prison for trying to steal diamonds for her. In his absence, she becomes attracted to the handsome young psalm-singing reformer.

Warned that Chick thinks she's betrayed him, she goes to the prison to try to reassure him. All the inmates greet her warmly and familiarly as she walks down the cellblock. Chick becomes angry and threatens to kill her if she double-crosses or two-times him before he gets out. She lies and claims she has been true to him.

Gus gives counterfeit money to Rita and Sergei to spend. Chick escapes from jail, and police search for him in the bar. He comes into Lou's room and starts to strangle her, breaking off only because he still loves her and cannot harm her. Lou calms him down by promising that she will go with him when she finishes her next number.

After Sergei gives Lou a diamond pin belonging to Rita, Rita starts a fight with Lou, who accidentally stabs her to death. Lou calmly combs the dead woman's long hair to hide the fact Rita is dead while the police search the room for Chick Clark. She has her bodyguard Spider (Dewey Robinson), who "would do anything for you, Lou" dispose of Rita's body. She then tells Spider to bring Chick, who's hiding in an alley, back to her room upstairs. Then, while she sings "Frankie and Johnny", she silently signals to Dan Flynn that he should go to her room to wait for her, even though she knows Chick is in there with a gun. Chick shoots Dan dead and the gunfire draws a police raid. Cummings shows his badge and reveals himself as "The Hawk," a well-known Federal agent, as he arrests Gus and Sergei. Chick, still lurking in Lou's room, is about to kill Lou for double-crossing him, when Cummings also apprehends him.

Cummings then takes Lou away in an open horse-drawn carriage instead of the paddywagon into which all the other criminals have been loaded. He tells her she doesn't belong in jail and removes all her other rings and slips a diamond engagement ring onto her marriage finger.

"Where'd you get that . . . dark and handsome?" Lou asks.

"You bad girl", he scolds.

"You'll find out", she coos.

Reception[edit]

The film was a box-office success, grossing $2 000 000 domestically with a budget of $200 000.

Variety magazine's "Bige" gave She Done Him Wrong a negative review stating that Paramount was attempting to rush Mae West to stardom by giving her her own film and top billing, and that the film was not very good without known actors and an entertaining story.[3]

She Done Him Wrong was nominated for an Academy Award for Outstanding Production, now known as Best Picture. At 66 minutes, it is the shortest film ever to be so honored.

In 1996, She Done Him Wrong was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".

American Film Institute recognition

Notes[edit]

Though Mae West's famous line to Cary Grant is "Why don't you come up some time and see me?" in She Done Him Wrong, she changed it to "Come up and see me sometime" in her next movie, I'm No Angel, which was released the same year and also co-starred Grant.

She Done Him Wrong bears some resemblances to The Bowery, a Raoul Walsh film released later the same year by United Artists starring Noah Beery's brother Wallace Beery in a similar role. Also, the part Wallace Beery played in The Bowery, a saloon owner named Chuck Connors, appears in She Done Him Wrong as a small role and is played by a different actor.

Mae West loved to take credit for "discovering" Cary Grant for She Done Him Wrong but Grant had already made seven movies, including playing Marlene Dietrich's leading man in Blonde Venus the previous year. Louise Beavers was the only African American actress to be brought aboard the film by Mae West personally. She wanted a black woman to appear opposite her; when she did stage and screen work, West made it a point to act with Black American actors and actresses, helping to break racial discrimination in entertainment. West's stage shows resulted in her arrest for saucy material and her having black actors on stage was extremely controversial. With this film, she and her Paramount bosses called the shots: black stars appeared in a few of her films after this one.

Quotes[edit]

"I always did like a man in a uniform. That one fits you grand. Why don't you come up sometime and see me? I'm home every evening."

Cast[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ "Box office / business for She Done Him Wrong". IMDb. Retrieved 2009-06-20. 
  2. ^ "WHICH CINEMA FILMS HAVE EARNED THE MOST MONEY SINCE 1914?.". The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1956) (Melbourne, Vic.: National Library of Australia). 4 March 1944. p. 3 Supplement: The Argus Weekend magazine. Retrieved 6 August 2012. 
  3. ^ Review in Variety's February 14, 1933 issue.

External links[edit]